Facts On Earthworms
Earthworms are interesting creatures that many people take for granted. Besides coming across some earthworms while gardening or after some heavy rain, you might not give them a second thought. So to inspire you to find earthworms interesting I have compiled some interesting facts to get you started with your love of Earthworms.
Some earthworms consume their own weight in a combination of food, water and soil everyday.
- Their dry body weight is two thirds protein, and they are low in cholesterol.
- Food they intake usually takes 24 hours to pass through their bodies and comes out in the form of vermicast-natures best soil conditioner.
- A worm system 1 metre long x 2 metres wide x 30 centimetres deep can cope with the average compostable household waste for a year.
- A well run system does not smell offensive.
- Up to 70% of all household waste is edible by earthworms.
Earthworms- Are Interesting
- In a healthy farm paddock there is more weight of protein below the surface in the form of earthworms and soil organisms than there is on the hoof abound the ground.
- Earthworms live 2 to 3 years under favourable conditions, but healthy worms up to 15 years old have been recorded.
- Of the 8000 worm breeds in the world, 2500 to 3000 are earthworms. the balance live in water. These figures do not include parasitic worms found in the intestines of animals.
- Earthworms have been around for 600 million years.
- Earthworms only mate with worms of the same species.
- Worm eggs-capsules- can survive drought and cold winters, provided they are deep enough in the soil or it is well mulched.
- Earthworms detest sunlight- two or more hours exposure to sunlight will kill them.
- Cut a earthworm in half and it generally dies. You don’t get two worms. Sometimes if the cut is far enough back, the worm will grow a new tail.
- Earthworms are hermaphrodites- each worm is both male and female. Mature worms can fertilise or be fertilised. In some cases they may do with out a partner and self fertilise.
- Worms are subject to so few diseases that you can virtually say they catch none at all, and for very good reason,the bacteria fostered in their gut and excreted with their castings are benevolent, and produced in such overwhelming numbers that disease-producing bacteria can not survive.
In 1881, Charles Darwin wrote about worms: “Of all animals, few have contributed so much to the development of the world, as we know it, as these lowly creatures.” Earthworms contribute to the provision of productive soil by constantly recycling nature’s wastes and renewing soil fertility, centuary after century. Healthy soil contains healthy earthworms and other soil life. Earthworms contribute to soil health and you will find your best worms in healthy pasture, cropland and gardens.
Earthworms improve the mechanical structure of soil by opening channels through which water, air and roots can travel to more easily assisting plant growth. Earthworms redistribute nutrients throughout the soil when they feed and excrete at different depths adding to soil life and plant health. It has been estimated that nearly every particle of healthy top soil on earth has passed through earthworms at one stage or another.
Different species of earthworms burrow at different depths. Their burrow range from the surface to, in some deep soils, over two metres deep. They can cross like highway intersections and can range from 1mm to 10mm wide. Some are vertical and some are horizontal. Some are more or less permanent and others are made as the need arises. There can even be small nesting chambers.
These burrows allow infiltration of surface water and air to lower depths. Earthworm activity can increase soil water holding capacity and availability to plants by up to nearly 40%. So burrows from earthworms should have a significant impact on lowering water tables and reducing salinity processes.
- They provide paths for root systems to penetrate.
- The air in burrows is more humid than surface air.
- The number and length of burrows increases as more food is available.
- The earthworm casts can contain a blend of sands, clays and organic matter thus increasing soil strength.
- Earthworms avoid soil with coarse abrasive structures. The also dislike clays in high rainfall areas which are low in oxygen. This can be changed by the incorporation of humus.
- In general earthworms found near the surface are redder in colour.
Earthworms And Biological Composition
Earthworms are associated with increased soil micro fauna activity. A main function of the earthworm is to redistribute organic matter throughout the soil by consuming, breaking down and excreting surface litter and soil particles, dead roots and soil organisms, and by dying. The microbes ingested by the earthworms multiply in the humid conditions of the worms interior and the slime on burrow walls, and the worm casts.
The microbes convert the excreted materials into collodial humus upon which plants feed for healthy nutrients. In the right conditions of temperature and moisture levels earthworms will consume every piece of organic materials. Their population builds to the level of food supply. Some earthworms drag surface litter underground for decomposition and later consumption. Dung of grazing animals is a earthworm delicacy which will be consumed and mixed in the soil layers after the dung has aged.
Bacteria levels in earthworms inhabited soil can build up to 100 times that of the population in surrounding soils. Soil bacterias and other mico organisms both help predigest earthworm food and benefit from worm excretia. The biomass in increased enormously and throughout different soil horizons. There are about 1000 times more bacteria in the worms gut than in the surrounding soil. This could explain the dramatic increase of plant nutrient amino acid in worm populated soils and even B group vitamin
So as you can see there are huge benefits to getting to know your friendly earthworm and the help they can do to our ever increasingly fragile environment, who knows, the answer to global warming could be earthworms.